Orienting Employees

Carefully selecting employees doesn’t guarantee they will perform effectively. Potential is one thing, performance is another. Even high potential employees can’t do their jobs if they don’t know what to do or how to do it. Therefore your next step is to ensure that your employees do know what to do and how to do it. This is purpose of orienting and training employees. We will start with orientation.

Purpose of Orientation:

Employee Orientation: A procedure for providing new employees with basic background information about the firm.

Employee orientation provides new employees with the basic background information they need to work in your company, such as information about company rules.

At a minimum, orientation should accomplish four things: The new employee should feel welcome and at ease; he or she should understand the organization in a broad sense (its past, present, culture, and vision of the future) as well as key facts such as policies and procedures; the employee should be clear about what is expected in terms of work and behavior; and the person should have begun the process of becoming socialized into the firm’s ways of acting and doing things.

However, orientation programs are moving away from mere discussions of rules, to explaining the company’s mission ad the employee’s role in accomplishing it. The assumption is that this will foster self directed behavior that is more consistent with the company’s needs. The Mayo Clinic recently revised its orientation program. Its new heritage and culture program now covers matters such as core principles, history, work atmosphere, teamwork, personal responsibility, innovation, integrity, diversity, customer service and mutual respect.

Don’t underestimate orientation’s importance. Without basic information on things like rules and policies new employees may make time consuming or even dangerous errors. Furthermore, orientation is not just about rules. It is also about making the new person feel welcome and at home and part of the team.

The Orientation Process:

Orientation programs range from 10 minute discussions to week long programs (at firms like Toyota). The human resources specialist (or in smaller firms, the office manager) usually performs the first part of the orientation by explaining basic matters like working hours, benefits and vacations. That person then introduces the new employee to his or her new supervisor. The supervisor continues the orientation by explaining the organization or the department, and by introducing the person to his or her new colleagues familiarizing the new employee with the workplace and helping to reduce first day jitters.

The orientation typically includes information on employee benefits personnel policies the daily routine, company organization and operations, and safety measures and regulations as well as a facilities tour. At a minimum new employees should receive print or Internet based employee handbooks covering matters like these.

More employers use technology to provide orientation. Some firms provide incoming managers with preloaded personal digital assistants. These contain information the new mangers need to better adjust to their now jobs, such as key contact information man tasks to undertake and even digital images of employees the new manager needs to know. Other employers put all or some of their orientation media on the Web. At the University of Cincinnati for instance new employees spend about 45 minutes online learning about their new employer’s mission, organization, and policies and procedures.

The Employee handbook:

In most companies, an employee handbook stating the policies and rules of the organization is handed over to new employee. This helps them to become familiar with the organizational dos and don’ts.

Note that under certain conditions courts may find that the employee handbook’s contents represent legally binding employment commitments. Therefore, employers often include disclaimers.

Not all new hires react to orientation in the same way. Supervisors should therefore be vigilant and follow up and encourage new employees to engage in those activities that will enable each to learn the ropes and quickly become productive.

Sensing the importance of orientation programs, Indian firms have devised elaborate and detailed programs for new employee orientation. Steel Authority of India, National Thermal Power Corporation, and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd use a combination of classroom sessions, on the job experience visit to various locations and self learning as part of thee orientation of trainee employees. In firms like Infosys, Wipro, and TCS, intensive technical training is part of the initial orientation program for fresh graduates. At the end of the training, new employees have to pass an examination to receive confirmation.

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